Oh, hello there, Internet friends. Good heavens: I hadn't blogged in so long I forgot how to sign in to Typepad. That's embarrassing on so many levels!
Admittedly, while I've been gone, I have gotten a little 'sucked in' to the social media world (facebook, twitter, and the like -- mostly from the learning perspective rather than from the participating perspective) -- but I've found that the steep learning curve on these communications tools (in addition to handling a full time job and three expanding 'side' clients) PLUS being a decent partner in a relationship, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a granddaughter, a caregiver/guardian, and a reasonably thoughtful friend is quite a LOT to keep track of.
Speaking of 'a lot to keep track of' -- whilst I was learning about Twitter (lurking, really, trying to figure it all out), my super-protective privacy-fiend self went ahead and crafted a pseudonym and then "protected" my tweets (not that I actually have any, but in concept I wanted to set my walls somewhat high). Then, as I went through the motions of 'following' a few people to see what the whole movement was about -- I picked a few people who seemed to really know what they were doing, and with a click of a button, I 'followed' them (stalked, skulked, lurked, whatever.) They were saying interesting things and teaching me things about this new social-media world that I need to get up to speed on, and quick.
Within about 2 hours of my selecting these three people, each of them came back with a request to 'follow' me in return (which I would have to approve). As these requests came in, I realized each of these people is FOLLOWING 40,000 * 52,000 * 112,000 people (respectively).
Really?!?!? Someone is actually 'following' 112,000 people? And, more importantly, WHY?
Hell, I have precisely the same 24 hours in a day that guy has, and I'm overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the 35 'real life' friends and the 200+ 'work-friends' I have on Facebook. (Yes, I'm just schizophrenic enough to have two completely different accounts). And yet with all this connectivity, I haven't had an ACTUAL conversation with my mother in more than weeks, and I can't seem to find time to cram in a belated birthday lunch with two women whom I adore. (And oh, yes, my eye is starting to twitch a bit from stress over-load.) And my much-sought-after week long winter escape to warmer climes was sadly not meant to be this year (though pics of the b-day getaway to Duluth will be forthcoming.) I was just 'too busy'. And yes, I realize that sounds like a poor excuse.
I was proud to be a somewhat-earlyish adopter of the idea of blogging back in 2005 -- I love communication and I love writing and storytelling. I love the feeling and the sound of my fingers on the keys. I even quite adore the idea of expanding my perspective, meeting new people, debating diverse views -- and the internet enables that. And now, as I try to wrap my head around all these social media outlets (because among other things, my job requires me to), I say to myself ...
How much is enough? Is this just another form of addiction? Do I really need to be a 'fan' of all those things? Are they adding value and enrichment to my life or just clutter? And of course 'brands' and companies are a different story than actual people, -- but does any one PERSON really need to have 112,000 friends they're keeping tabs on?
He probably doesn't know it, but I did that guy a favor and didn't let him follow me - let him focus his energy on the OTHER 111,999 people. Not that I'm saying anything (I remain, for the moment, a twit-diot), but still.
Someone's gotta say, "Enough". Does the whole internet need a safe word to know when to 'quit' and go back to our 'real lives?'
I know Social Media isn't going away, but we're all going to have to find a balance. When I'm sitting upstairs and commenting on the FB page of the guy sitting downstairs, that's a bad sign.